1. What associations might St. Agnes have had for a Victorian reader?
2. What is added by the use of epigraphs?
3. What is the subject of the tale? What does it suggest about the sources of artistic creation?
4. What do we know about the speaker and the kind of art to which he aspires? Do we know his name? What is his relationship to the Victorian art world?
5. To what extent is the speaker an unreliable narrator? Is the extent of his reliability always clear, and if not, how does this affect the story?
6. What ae unusual features of his response to the paintings of Bucciuolo Angiolieri? What does the reader suspect may be his relation to the earlier painter? Why do you think a relatively obscure, fictive painter was chosen as the object of his infatuation?
7. What does the speaker learn about the history of Blanzifiore dal l’Ambra? What are parallels between her romance and that of the narrator?
8. At what point does the story break off? What does the reader expect would have been the end of the story? What may have discouraged Rossetti from finishing it?
9. How has the speaker been changed by his experience? Is he delusional? Insane? If so, how do these mental states affect the meaning of his tale?
10. What kind of reincarnation or transhistorical psychic kinship does the story seem to evoke?
11. Can you see similarities between "St. Agnes" and any stories by Poe?
12. What nineteenth-century intellectual preoccupations are evoked by the plot? (determinism, unconscious psychic processes, cycles of history)
13. Would Rossetti himself have believed literally in psychic determinism or reincarnation? If not, what would have drawn him to this subject?
14. Are there elements of the tale’s language or presentation which make it more convincing?
16. What is added to the tale by the introduction of the figure of an imperceptive critic and poet? What's wrong with his poem?
17. What symbolism adheres in the fact that we can never again see the small painting which the narrator claims to have once viewed?
18. To what extent may this tale be read as a artistic manifesto?